Journal of Scientific Papers


© CSR, 2008-2019
ISSN 2071-789X

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Strike Plagiarism

  • General Founder and Publisher:

    Centre of Sociological Research


  • Publishing Partners:

    University of Szczecin (Poland)

    Széchenyi István University, (Hungary)

    Mykolas Romeris University (Lithuania)

    Alexander Dubcek University of Trencín (Slovak Republic)

  • Membership:

    American Sociological Association

    European Sociological Association

    World Economics Association (WEA)




In the eye of the beholder? Gendered perception of CEOs’ ethical and unethical leadership

Vol. 15, No 4, 2022

Kári Kristinsson


School of Business, 

University of Iceland, Iceland 


ORCID 0000-0001-9550-1235


In the eye of the beholder? Gendered perception of CEOs’ ethical and unethical leadership


Inga Minelgaite


School of Business, 

University of Iceland, Iceland


ORCID 0000-0002-4026-3222

Olga Stangej


ISM University of Management and Economics, Lithuania



Abstract. Over the last decade, enabled by the ever-faster dissemination of information, customers have increasingly begun to scrutinize CEOs’ ethical leadership behavior. Although potentially hazardous for companies, this development also poses opportunities, with some CEOs managing to create a positive image of their organizations through ethical leadership. Extensive literature also suggests that perception of leadership is not only influenced by CEOs’ behavior but also by gender stereotypes. The present study seeks to accentuate the relevance of gender in the public perception of ethical and unethical leadership. In a survey experiment using a nationally representative sample (N=1055) from Iceland, one of the most egalitarian countries in the world, we find that male CEOs suffer more severe negative consequences for unethical behavior then female CEOs do. Additionally, our results suggest that female members of the public are more appreciative of ethical leadership than their male counterparts. These results underscore the importance of gender stereotypes and perceiver’s gender when examining ethical leadership perceptions and indicate that ethical leadership might possess some unique characteristics that set it apart from other leadership concepts. We conclude by discussing the implications of these findings for theory and practice and suggest avenues for further research.


Received: February, 2022

1st Revision: June, 2022

Accepted: December, 2022


DOI: 10.14254/2071-789X.2022/15-4/1

JEL ClassificationJ16, L82

Keywords: ethical leadership, unethical leadership, public perception, role congruity theory, social media